Classroom Updates!

Sunday, August 23, 2015
A couple of years ago, I changed my classroom theme to a fun mix of  primary colors, polka dots, and chevron. You can read more about it here. After all this time, I still love it! One of my favorite things about this color scheme/decor is that it's both boy and girl friendly! And, it goes with everything! 

I knew this year it was time to do a little updating here and there. I wanted to do this last year, but being super pregnant got the best of me;) One of the first changes I made was switching my bulletin board fabric in the back of my room from red to black. Best decision ever. The black makes everything I put on the board POP and anchors down all the bright primary colors. My board looks pretty blank right now, but as you know, it won't be long before it's covered in anchor charts. 
Carpets for Kids Rug: Click here for more info.
Really Good Stuff Desk Caddies: I think this product has been discontinued:( #boo

This is my updated writing station area! 
I bought A Cupcake for the Teacher's Writing Center Starter Kit to inspire and help my little writers! Love it! The paper banner was one of my many Target Dollar Spot finds from this summer! 
Above my writing board, I made a special place to display my students' work. I bought clipboards from Walmart, spray painted them black, labeled them with my students' names, and hot glued them to the wall. It's my favorite new addition this year! 
I've been dreaming of having a super cozy reading spot in my room for a long time. This summer I decided it was time to make it happen. I didn't have a lot of money to spend towards it, so I asked my Facebook friends and family if they had a black futon they wanted to sell or get rid of. I couldn't believe it when a friend gave me this one FOR FREE! YAY!!! 

Then, I found these amazing pillows on Etsy here!
 They were the cherry on top of my reading dream space! 
Best part is that they were made by a teacher, which makes this little splurge money well spent!

Above the futon is my big ol' Daily 5 board. When you're in love with the 5 as much as I am, you need a whole wall dedicated to it to display your rotation chart, posters, and I charts. I found and printed out the cutest Daily 5 posters from Fantabulous in First here!! 
 Here are two other views from the back of my classroom. 
Yes, those are plastic storage drawers on top of my filing cabinet! When you don't have a lot of storage, you make it work:) 
 My classroom is not perfect and probably never will be. To be quite honest with you, it hardly ever looks this clean and organized on a normal day (these pictures were taken the first week of school on a Sat.). BUT, what my classroom will always be is a special place for my students to fall in love with learning...and this gets really messy y'all! Whether you have a beautifully decorated room or not, let your focus ALWAYS be on your students and those messy, amazing moments where love and learning grow! That's what matters the most and what your students will remember! 

Meet the Teacher Tips

Saturday, August 8, 2015

It's that time of year!! Last Monday, I met all 23 of my precious students and their families at Meet the Teacher. Several of you have also already had Meet the Teacher and many of you are probably getting ready for it! 

Meet the Teacher is one of my favorite days. I love meeting my new students and their families. Our kids come to school with bags of supplies to find out who their teacher will be (they have NO idea who they have until they walk through the doors and look at their grade level list), who's in their class, what their classroom looks like, and where they will sit. It's a day packed full of excitement, anticipation, and maybe a few a lot of butterflies! Let me tell you, I still get so nervous even after 8 years. Honestly, I think it will always be this way, so I'm learning to just go with it..haha! Here are five simple things that I do every year to help my Meet the Teacher day run smoothly.

For the last couple of years, I've made sure to carve out quiet time before Meet the Teacher begins. As you know, preplanning is nonstop do this, do that, meeting here, meeting there..., so this is my time to unplug my hot glue gun, hide the to-do list, and breathe. I try to turn my lights down, play my favorite Pandora station, and pray over my classroom. This is the most powerful thing I do to help me calm down and clear my mind before the party begins. 

Even though I love my parents (and other family members), my main focus is connecting with my awesome students. First impressions are important! When they walk in the door, I want them to feel important and welcomed in my classroom. Many are super shy, so I tell them to go find their desk to get their special first grader treat! This usually breaks the ice and helps spark a conversation about what they did this summer. You can download the BTS survival treat bag tags here

Sometimes I wish there were 4-5 of me during Meet the Teacher to be able to greet everyone right away. The reality is that I'm usually in the middle of a conversation with someone when other families arrive. I leave a little note and checklist of things to help them feel right at home until I can go over to introduce myself. I got this awesome idea from the amazing Cara Carroll over at The First Grade Parade
It helps manage traffic so well! 

I also try not to overwhelm my parents with information to fill out in the classroom. They take everything home to complete in a file folder, other than a quick student info sheet (free download from Cara Carroll's blog) and transportation note.

In the packet parents take home, I include a letter to introduce myself and specific classroom information. Rowdy in Room 300 made an adorable editable intro letter you can use to make your own. Click here to check it out! LOVE it!!

Teachers have way too much to do at the beginning of the year to spend their precious time sorting school supplies. Like many of you, I learned this the hard way. Save yourself hours and ask your parents/students to help you! I like to put labeled plastic containers and baskets around my room for parents/students to sort their supplies. Having pictures on the labels makes it super easy for kids to help out! They love it! 

Click here to download the school supply bin labels.

I also ask parents to put specific school supplies in their child's pencil box/desk. Oh how I love not having to worry about doing this on the first day! With all the Meet the Teacher craziness, it is nice to have directions (with pictures) also on the SmartBoard to help parents. 

Student info sheet is from The First Grade Parade.

I think one of the most stressful times during the first day of school for me is dismissal time. If I can get all my babies home the right way, I can relax and call it a successful day! I like leaving a transportation note for parents to fill out and turn into me before leaving Meet the Teacher. This way, I can get my transportation list ready to go and clear up any issues/confusion first thing on the first day! 

I hope these tips help you get ready for your Meet the Teacher day! I'd love to hear your Meet the Teacher tips in the comment section:)

NEW Fiction and Nonfiction Reading Response Activities & BTS SALE!!

Sunday, August 2, 2015
One of my goals this summer was to amp up the reading response activities in my classroom. As a first grade teacher, building and strengthening reading comprehension is a daily focus. I wanted my students to have a variety of fun, engaging activities to help them comprehend, analyze, and respond to what they were reading. So, I got right to work and created two reading response packs that I think you and your students will love too! 

I started off by creating this....

It includes games, graphic organizers, and foldables (flap books, step books, and trifold brochures) that can be used with ANY fiction book! These teacher/student friendly (aka..little prep, easy to understand, and fun/engaging for your readers) activities work great for whole group instruction, guided reading groups, and/or independent work. I tried really hard to make this resource have everything you would need and then some to support ALL of your students as they respond to text.  The skills covered are story elements, sequencing, character traits, problem/solution, main idea, author's purpose, asking questions, making inferences, visualizing, text to self/text/world connections, comparing & contrasting two characters/settings/stories, and more! Click here for more info about this resource!

After many requests to make a similar resource for nonfiction, I got to work again and this happened....
This packet includes a variety of games, graphic organizers, and foldables (flap books, step books, and trifold brochures)  that can be used with any nonfiction/informational text. Just like my first reading response pack, I tried to make the activities as student/teacher friendly as possible with everything you would need throughout the school year. The skills included are note taking, finding facts, important details, asking & answering questions, text to self/text/world, comparing/contrasting, text features, KWL chart, main idea and supporting details, vocabulary, and more! Click here for more info about this resource!

Want to purchase these as a bundle and save 25%?? Click here!

Don't forget that TpT's BIG BTS SALE starts tomorrow! Everything in my shop (including already discounted bundles) will be 20% and you can use the promo code BTS15 for an additional 10% off! 
A BIG thank you to The Bubbly Blonde for this graphic!